Legal Professionals of Hirsch & Ehlenberger

Learn More About Divorce In Virginia

Approaching a divorce can feel extremely overwhelming. With so many options in front of you, conducting the research, deciding which choices are best for you and navigating the legal process are next to impossible without guidance.

At Hirsch & Ehlenberger, P.C., we take pride in helping clients throughout the Reston area move forward with their lives after ending a marriage. We take the time to sit down with you to explain the law and your choices so you can do what is best for your unique situation. Here, we have provided answers to some of the questions that our clients frequently have for us.

How is property split in a divorce?

Virginia is an equitable distribution state. In equitable distribution states, couples who take their asset division case to court can expect the judge to divide marital property equitably. This does not necessarily mean 50-50, and it does not apply to all assets. It means that all property acquired after the marriage – with the exception of inheritances and gifts – must be divided in a fair and equitable manner.

How long do you have to be separated to get a divorce in Virginia?

Our state is unique in that it requires couples to live separately and apart before filing for divorce. Virginia defines separately and apart as physical separation plus the intent to make the separation permanent.

To file for uncontested divorce, you must live apart from your spouse for one year or for six months if you have a separation agreement and do not have underage children. You do not need to live separately and apart to file a contested divorce.

How should I prepare for the divorce process in Virginia?

When you have decided to end your marriage, consider which type of divorce may be right for you. Your options include:

  • Uncontested divorce: In an uncontested divorce, spouses agree on the major issues of the divorce and reach a private divorce settlement out of court.
  • Contested divorce: When spouses disagree on asset division and other issues, the divorce is said to be contested.
  • Mediation: Couples can work with a neutral mediator to reach mutually satisfactory compromises and determine a settlement.
  • Litigation: A traditional divorce involves taking the case to trial to have a judge issue a binding decision on major issues.

When you have learned a bit about the various options for divorce, gather your financial documents, insurance statements and tax information. Bring these papers to your consultation with your divorce attorney; your lawyer can look at this information to give you a better idea of what to expect.

How are child custody and parenting time determined in Virginia?

Custody and parenting time – formerly called visitation – depend on several factors. These include:

  • The ability of each parent to raise the child
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The willingness of a parent to foster the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • The location of each parent’s residence
  • The child’s involvement in school, church and other community activities
  • A history of domestic violence, substance abuse or mental illness

Physical custody refers to the location of the child, while legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s life, including medical care. Parents may receive joint custody, in which they share duties, or sole custody, in which only one parent raises the child.

How do courts calculate child support?

Although the state has several guidelines in place for determining child support, the judge considers several unique factors in every case. The criteria that may influence the amount of child support you pay or receive include:

  • The income of each parent
  • Health insurance considerations
  • The financial needs of the child
  • The child’s primary residence
  • The supporting parent’s existing child support obligations
  • The child’s standard of living during the marriage

Child support orders are not necessarily permanent. As your life changes following the divorce, you have the right to seek a post-judgment modification to amend the amount of support you pay or receive.

Ask Us More In Person

When you are ready to take the next step in your divorce, reach out to our team. We can offer detailed answers that apply to your personal situation. To schedule an initial consultation with one of our staff members, please call us at 703-481-6063 or send us an email.